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Gene Variations Linked to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

FKBP5 polymorphisms may increase risk of PTSD in adults who experienced severe child abuse

TUESDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the FKBP5 gene -- which is involved in glucocorticoid signal transduction -- may predict the development of adult post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in patients who experienced severe physical or sexual child abuse, according to research published in the March 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Elisabeth B. Binder, M.D., Ph.D., of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and colleagues studied 900 non-psychiatric clinic patients -- most of them urban, low-income and black -- who experienced significant levels of child abuse and non-child abuse trauma.

The researchers found that four SNPs in the FKBP5 locus -- rs9296158, rs3800373, rs1360780 and rs9470080 -- significantly interacted with the severity of child abuse to predict the level of adult PTSD symptoms. They also found that this genetic interaction was paralleled by FKBP5 genotype-dependent and PTSD-dependent effects on glucocorticoid receptor sensitivity. The investigators did not find a significant genetic interaction with the level of non-child abuse trauma in predicting adult PTSD symptoms.

"These genotypes potentially serve as predictors of both risk and resilience for adult PTSD among survivors of child physical and sexual abuse," the authors write. "Our genetic results support the hypothesis that the glucocorticoid response system moderates the effects of early life stress on adult PTSD symptoms and that glucocorticoid receptor hypersensitivity may be important in the pathophysiology of this disorder."

Several of the study authors report financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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